MS Word: Accessibility Best Practices

Covers accessibility in MS Word


Use styles to provide logical heading structure and enable screen readers to easily navigate and skip to appropriate content.

  1. Click and drag to highlight the text you that you want as your heading.

  2. From the "Home" tab, choose the appropriate heading level from the Styles group/pane.


Use ordered/unordered lists to group related items. This breaks up content for easier consumption. Correctly formatting lists helps screen readers to convey when lists exist and identify sublists.

  1. Select the text you want to make into a list.

  2. From the "Home" tab, in the Paragraph group, select the Bullets or Numbering list.


Use tables for tabular data (structured and semi-structured datasets). Provide column headers (as well as row headers, when applicable) to help those using screen readers understand which column and/or row heading the content corresponds to.

  1. Click Insert from the main row of options along the top of Word, then click Table.
  2. Select the number of rows and columns you will need for your table.

  3. Place the cursor in the top row of your data table and click on the Design tab under "Table Design."

  4. In the top left, Table Style options will appear. Select the Header Row check box.

  5. Click the Layout tab from the menu of options spanning the top of the screen (the tab is just to the right of the "Table Design" tab).

  6. In the Data group, click Repeat Header Row. If your table spans multiple pages, Repeat Header Row will ensure the header row appears on each page.


Use alt text for images. This provides a description of the image that is read to those using screen readers.

  1. Right click on the image, then select View Alt Text. You can also navigate here by clicking on the image (not right-clicking) to open the "Picture Format" tab, then clicking Alt Text from the menu options just above the.

  2. Fill in the Description field (not the Title field) to describe what the image is communicating.


Use meaningful text for links.

  1. Type out text that clearly describes the link’s destination (e.g., “CITL Best Practices for Creating Accessible Word Documents”). Avoid text like “Click here” or “Visit.”

  2. Select the text, right-click on it, and choose Hyperlink from the menu or press Ctrl + K (for Windows) or Cmd + K (for Mac) on your keyboard.

  3. In the Insert Hyperlink window, enter a URL address in the "Address" field.

  4. Click the OK button to save the link.

Document Properties

Identify the document's title and author.

  1. In Windows, click File in the upper left corner.

  2. Expand the pull down menu for "Properties" to select the Summary tab. On a Mac, click File, then select Properties, and then select the Summary tab.

  3. From the "Summary" tab of the Properties dialog, add or change the Title and the Author.


Use Sufficient Color Contrast

  1. Download the Paciello Group’s Color Contrast Analyzer from the following URL:

  2. Open the Color Contrast Analyzer application.

  3. Click the Foreground eye dropper tool. Hover over and click your foreground color to select it.

  4. Click the Background eye dropper tool. Hover over and click your background color.

  5. If you are testing a 12-pixel or smaller font, you must get a Pass (AA). If your font is larger than 12 pixels, you must get a Pass (AA) in the Large Text field.

  6. AA standards pass is sufficient.

  7. Do not use color alone to convey information (e.g., items in red indicate a deficit).


KeywordsMS Word, Word, Accessibility, "Accessibility Guide", style*, list*, table*, "alt text", color   Doc ID124885
OwneriSchool U.GroupSchool of Information Sciences
Created2023-03-16 09:13:59Updated2024-06-03 09:50:20
SitesUniversity of Illinois School of Information Sciences
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